‘Shot of Short’ #14: A Mother

Title: A Mother by James Joyce
Date Read: 08 November 2008
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: Mrs. Kearney’s daughter Kathleen has been contracted to perform at a series of concerts given by the Eire Abu Society. Mrs. Kearney emerges as being very protective of her daughter and with the concerts not going quite to plan (one of them is even cancelled), on the final night she stands her ground and will not let her daughter perform without her getting paid the agreed contracted fee.
Afterthoughts: Aware of the literary prowess of James Joyce I expected something really special from this story, but I didn’t feel I got it. Maybe I’d hyped myself up to expecting too much, or wasn’t reading the story deep enough, but I felt it was just an ordinary story from a slightly-better-than ordinary writer. I’m sure the story was full of rich allegorical meaning or a raison de’être other than a mother protecting her daughter’s interests, but I didn’t find them.
Notable Quote: “Therefore she was not surprised when one day Mr. Holohan came to her and proposed that her daughter should be the accompanist at a series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give in the Antient Concert Rooms.”

Rating: ★★½☆☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. I read Dubliners a few months ago and that’s how I felt about all 9 or 10 stories by Joyce: I didn’t get them. He’s doing more than I can understand. My favorite Joyce story was Araby, I think because it’s the easiest to understand (I even read it and “analyzed” it in 9th grade). But I absolutely loved Joyce’s control of setting, especially in The Dead.

  2. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Rebecca, thanks for your feedback. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks Joyce writes on another level. I’ll tell you what though – I’m willing to give his short stories another try and based solely on your recommendation I’ve added ‘The Dead’ to my 100 shot list (S023 on list). See I do listen to my visitors :o)